Triplets of Belleville director Sylvain Chomet uses classic hand-drawn techniques in this sweet and stunning tribute to French auteur Jacques Tati’s unique, dialog-free style.
An aging stage magician makes over a young lady in Chomet’s take on Tati’s unproduced 1950s screenplay. In the present-day animated version of Tati’s story, the titular world-weary traveling illusionist settles in a boarding house for vaudeville performers — including a family of trapeze artists, a suicidal clown, and a ventriloquist — accompanied by a teenage girl who believes his magic is real.
What follows is a simple yet poignant story of love and friendship that is imbued with a rare innocence. Tati’s early career as a traveling comic, as well as his own relationship with his daughter, inspired the film’s original story, written between 1956 and 1959. The self-described “Don Quixote of cinema,” he extended the silent-comedy tradition onto film in an era when the genre was no longer in vogue, a theme that resonates in The Illusionist.
Click through below for a gallery of images from the film.